Although he didn’t pull on the gold-and-blue for a couple of months, to many who were at Sixways that day, Shane Drahm’s career started about 10 minutes from the final whistle on Saturday, April 30, 2005.
To the relief of the majority of the 8,500 chewing their nails that afternoon, that was the moment the little Australian handed the fly-half role – and with it the kicking duties – to his Northampton Saints coach, Paul Grayson.
Few will forget it. Five teams were at risk of being relegated on that final day of the Zurich Premiership season, including Saints and Warriors. The week before had been wrapped around one thing – the fact that Shane could land the kick that consigned his new club to despair.
He’d kicked Saints into an early lead, and Warriors were still in the basement position when the replacements board flashed ’10’. As he sat down and asked what the other scores were, Worcester won a lineout. By the time he’d listened to the answer, Drew Hickey had burst through to score the winning try and it was Saints who were heading for National One.
Six minutes after no-time, news came through that Sale had done for Quins at The Stoop. Relief all round. You couldn’t make it up.
“The result was perfect,” he reflects now. “To be honest, I didn’t think about would happen if Worcester went down, because Catherine and I were coming here, no matter what. We’d already bought a house in Worcester.”
Nevertheless, the would-be executioner’s tale engaged and engrossed the crowd until the moment Grayson brought himself on. However, that move wasn’t part of any conversation he’d had with Grayson or Budge Pountney.
“It was in the papers and you heard the chat all week,” he says, “but it wasn’t discussed between us. They did what they thought was right and didn’t want to put me in that position. I have a lot of respect for Paul and Budge. They didn’t want to see me relegate my new club.”
The season that followed in gold and blue was a good one, but frustrating too. He came back from a knee op too soon and ended up unable to train properly and taking pain-killers before every game.
He also made his England A debut and was picked for the re-branded England Saxons’ Churchill Cup squad, in Canada, until it was decided that more surgery was needed to complete the repair.
“It was good to get in the England mix,” he says. “I’d just qualified so I was happy they’d picked me. At the end of the day, I’d like to be one step above, but I’m not too worried about that. I just want to play well for Worcester, start getting results and beating sides.”
If that happens tonight, the smile on the golf course next time will be familiar.
“I don’t have an official handicap. The boys always put me off an eight, which is a bit unfair,” he grins. “Pat’s starting to get into it. Tom Harding’s pretty good. We’re all pretty evenly matched – but it’s very competitive.”
If it’s not the likes of Sanderson, Brown, Tucker or Harding on the course, it’ll be his “little fella”, two-year-old son Thomas. In case you’re wondering, though the process of ‘re-education might begin when the family returns to Australia after the 29-year-old eventually calls time on his career, Tom’s allegiance is firm.
“He’s got an England jersey, not an Australian jersey,” he laughs, “so I suppose it’s England. I support England in rugby, too. So does Catherine.”
For now, though, there’s nothing else on his mind but Sixways points.
“At the moment, my mind doesn’t go any further than Sale,” he says. “I don’t even know who we play after that. Last week we put in a good effort, but we need a win and that’s where it stops.”